Hello lovely friends and family!
This Christmas I decided to do things a little differently. Instead of writing everyone a letter, I am “printing” my yearly Christmas letter here. In addition some Christmas cards are still being send out, after all tradition needs to be kept up, besides I love getting Christmas cards myself!
What was 2016 like?
In short: full with ups and downs; like anything in life, we had our struggles and our celebrations.
Last winter was not a bad winter weather wise, thankfully, because I was still working in Starbuck, which is about 60 kilometers over gravel roads. By highway, it would have been at least another 20 K. At times, the drive was quite pleasant, especially early in the morning, driving into the sunrise I was met with the most beautiful and stunning skies. Sometimes I would all of a sudden spot a snowy owl out of the corner of my eyes driving by, not able to stop and take in this majestic creature, it would never the less leave me happy to have been able to see it at all. The wingspan is amazing! Other days the desolation of the snow and ice covered prairies was almost un-natural. Often I would be the only vehicle for miles around, and yard sites would be few and far between.
Lisa and I were lucky enough to have a visit in Holland this March and saw all the family from over sees again. Some cousins I had not seen for many, many years, and Lisa had hardly seen any of them. I even got to meet up with my high school girl friend and her husband and spend a lovely evening catching up on everything. After two weeks it was back to work for me, but Lisa stayed for a while and did a lot of traveling in Europe.
When spring started to come closer, watching the landscape slowly change, losing its icy blanket and ever so slow green sprouts would start to show up. Spring is an exciting time, everything starts to grow again, and it really seems like the earth is being reborn. I love looking for wildflowers and watching the birds. This year there were many hawks and I even did see a bald eagle a couple of times. You can see some of my wild flower pictures here, and new posts will be coming closer to spring.
Spring is also the time the cows are calving, and watching the antics of these little animals is always fun. With this, there are also always problems and this year was no different, we lost several calves, some were born dead, others did not survive the birthing process and others got sick and could not be saved. We are looking forward to having the barn more prepared so we may be able to save some of these calves. Nature can be cruel.
Practicing mud bogging
The kids got a kick out of mother practicing mud bogging a couple of times, I did not like it very much because getting stuck in slimy mud is not my idea of fun. Grant had to come and rescue me once and then discovered I was about to lose my front wheel on the driver’s side, it only hung on by one bolt! I had told him it felt like I was going to lose a wheel, which he did not believe at first.We were only a few miles from home and BJ and Brooke came with the trailer to tow us home.
In June, I was happy to move my job to Portage, which meant a lot less driving. I missed the people I had gotten to know, but then I got to work with some old time friends again. I always love going to visit the hospital because there is always someone to catch up with whom I used to work with there. As everywhere in the health care, we too are struggling with staffing shortages, which means that the burden for each and every one is heavy and always seems to be growing. Especially because the turnover of clients is high, clients are sicker and longer at home, and the constant demands for more guidelines and forms and changes. The people I work with are amazing, so that makes things more bearable. Still I hope that retirement is not too far in the future.
With all the demands of a full time job, it was not easy to help with the farm this year, just planting and tilling the garden were enough to keep me busy. Grant and the boys planted canola, wheat and oats this year. Everything was a little later because the mud did not want to dry up very well with rains on and off getting the land wet all over again. Overall the whole season was a challenge, but we were able to get the hay off in between rains, and the overall quality was not bad, the timing of cutting and baling was just very lucky.
Then two weeks before the wedding, we got struck by two tornados. The whole landscape was changed after wards with trees down everywhere you looked. The men were able to cut up the worst of the mess so that driveways were cleared to get through, but it will take years before all of it will be cleaned up. Lucky enough the damage to buildings was only minor, but could have been much, much worse. Any way the upside is that we have lots of wood to heat the house for a long time. The rest of us made ourselves useful by loading truck after truck with branches and other debris.
On the most perfect day of the year we had the wedding of BJ and Brooke. My parents, my brother and his wife made the trip from Holland to be part of this event. It was lovely and a very special country wedding. We did get some sightseeing in as well and they all had a great time. I was just so grateful that they were able to be part of it all.
One of the highlights of the wedding!
For a dry year, it sure was wet! It seems that every two days we had rain this summer, making harvest a challenge, also the storm had stripped all the flowers of the canola and flattened the oats, making swatting and combining difficult and we lost many bushels in yield this way. However, it all got in the bins eventually, even the bins Grant put up earlier in the year were put to use, after I cleaned them up. Some of our neighbors had more of a struggle getting their beans and corn off as fall came in with a vengeance and winter close behind, leaving the fields muddy and hard to navigate.
Looking forward to this coming year with two grand babies coming: one in January and one in February!
Both moms to be had trouble with persistent nausea in the beginning, but are doing much better now and looking great. Christmas will be completely different again next year with little ones over the floor!
Looking forward to 2017, I wish everyone health, happiness and prosperity, may all your wishes come true! I cannot express how grateful I am with all the blessings coming our way and I thank you all for your support for this blog in the past year. Hope you will stick with me in the year to come. I will continue to post about four times a month, this seems to work well for me, that with work and family life. Don’t hesitate to contact me when you want me to write about things I haven’t yet talked about. There is a long list of projects ahead and other interesting topics, so stay tuned!